//Pathimugam: dye yielding medicinal tree variety

Pathimugam: dye yielding medicinal tree variety

M.J. PRABU, The Hindu, Jan 25, 2007

From one acre about sixty lakh rupees can be gained in 7-8 years

PATHIMUGAM OR EAST Indian red wood is a fast growing, dye yielding and medicinal tree variety, which is suitable for raising in drought prone regions.

The most important part of the tree is the heartwood, which is used for making woodcrafts and for extracting dyes, used as a colouring agent for mats, woollen and cotton fabrics.

Red dye

The bark and pods of the tree contain a red dye, which is used for colouring cakes and alcoholic drinks. In addition, the wood contains several medicinal properties and is used for treating dysentry, diarrhoea and skin diseases in alternative systems of medicine.

The tree, propagated by seeds, comes to harvest in about 7-8 years. Flowering season is during April-December and the flowers are golden yellow in colour.

Flowers are cross-pollinated by bees, butterflies and insects. Fruit set starts 5-15 days after flowering and the fruits attain maturity in 3 months.

Ideal fence crop

This tree is an ideal fence crop as cattle do not graze on it. Though Pathimugam can be grown in any soil type, red soil is ideally suited.

As it does not require much water for its growth, it is ideal for growing in areas facing water scarcity, according to Mr. T.G. Vijayan, Administrator and Senior Project Co-ordinator, The Farming Trust of India, Palakkad, Kerala.

The seedlings have to be taken care for the first 5-6 months. Once they have established not much attention is required.

Planting details

They must be planted in cubical pits of 90x90x90 cm covered with about 3kg of farmyard manure and soil.

The plants should be planted in a straight line at a spacing of about 5×5 feet between them. About 1,500 seedlings are required for planting in one acre.

During the initial stages, the seedlings must be irrigated once every 5-7 days for the first 6 months. The trees attain maturity in about 7-8 years after which they can be harvested.

A full-grown tree attains a height of about 8 feet. "Once planted, the tree can be maintained for a period of about 50 years and subsequent harvesting can be done once every 4 years," said Mr. Vijayan.

Farmers should cut the side branches of the tree as and when required to promote faster growth.

While harvesting, care should be taken to see that a small portion of the stem (about one foot) is left above ground level.

The cut end of the stem should be covered with plastic bags to enable the tree to grown again.

First harvest

The first harvest can be done during the 7th or 8th year and from one tree about 80 kg of wood can be obtained. At present one kg of wood is sold at Rs.50 and farmers can expect an income of Rs.4,000 from a single tree, Mr. Vijayan said.

From one acre, about Rs. 60 lakh be expected as a net income, with a minimal investment of Rs.15,000 which includes land preparation, manure and labour cost.

Technical guidance

The Farming Trust of India in Palakkad district of Kerala is supplying seedlings priced at Rs. 5 per plant, besides providing technical guidelines, assisting in credit approva, l and in marketing the harvested produce.

For more information readers can contact Mr. T.G. Vijayan, Administrator and Senior Project Co-ordinator,

The Farming Trust of India, BPL Koottupatha junction, Marutha road post, Palakkad, Kerala: -678007, email: [email protected], phone: 0491-2572259, 2572246 and 2570260, mobile: 9249792271.